Manifesta 11 What People do for Money

July 23rd, 2016 by Patricia Jehle Leave a reply »

What people do for Money: a visit to the Manifesta 11 in Zürich


What do you do for money?

This is a very provocative question, when considered from different angles. First is the question of occupation, but then there follows all sorts of value-oriented issues.

A fellow art lover and I took the opportunity to visit the exhibition recently. We spent a good part of a day going from site to another, and I think we both felt that, at the end of our day, we should have tried to see more. But my human body was done, the brain, back and feet cried, “Enough!” Two days would have been better, I think. But I will go back and visit some of the ventures and perhaps go to an open air film, or two. Below is some quick info from the M11 website:


“Manifesta was conceived in the early 1990s as a nomadic, European biennial of contemporary art, responding to the new social, cultural and political reality that emerged in the aftermath of the Cold War. Following a desire to explore the psychological and geographical territory of Europe and to provide a dynamic platform for cultural exchange throughout the region, it takes place every two years in a different European city. Along with the Venice Biennale and documenta in Kassel, Manifesta is one of the foremost art events in Europe

Manifesta 11, with its theme What People Do for Money: Some Joint Ventures, focuses attention on the relation between artistic work and labour. In our post-industrial age, it is a concept that resonates acutely with life not only in Zurich but in the rest of the world.”

A building on the Water

My friend and I began the exhibit with the floating building called the Pavillion of Reflections on Lake Zürich. I do recommend this, as you can see films of the different pieces of art and the conception and making of them. Unfortunately the films in total last for something like seven hours, so we were only able to see two. But we were very lucky, in that the film on the butterfly in the Wasserkirche was one of the two films we were able to watch. I have to admit that this was my favorite one, perhaps because of the film, and perhaps because of the beauty of the butterfly and the meaning of the whole exhibit in the church.


A whole day of sights and sounds… and smells… 

We also visited the Helmhaus, the Dada museum (Zunfthaus Voltaire), and the Löwenbräukunsthaus and I found several of those exhibits particularly moving, not always positively, but definitely thought-provoking. One that was moving in many ways was the room full of waste, human waste. An artist had taken a day’s worth of human waste from the city water-treatment plant. 400,000+ people’s waste, dried and put in hay-bail sized cakes. The enormity of this makes me think about what it would look like for a week, a month… We humans do affect our environment in so many ways and this one was made very visible.

The sights, sounds, and smells accomplished what was meant to be: I was moved, in thought and emotion. So many more artists and takes on the question of what one does for money and with money can be discussed and written about. But not here, and not now. Go and experience it for yourself, instead.

Do visit!

So, what are your values, especially towards money? Are you willing to consider other people’s view points and experiences? The Manifesta will challenge you, and leaving one’s comfort zone is almost always a good thing.


Happy visiting,

Patricia Jehle


1 comment

  1. Doug says:

    Thanks for this, Patty! I wondered what was going on, and now I know.

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